Vintage style with a steampunk twist

Verdigris aging your copper pieces

Copper is a great medium. It can be shiny as a new penny, aged to a lovely darkness, or beautifully green with verdigris. If you are like me, you love to try and get all these different looks, but not spend lots of time and money on them. So here is a great way to get that gorgeous green copper look with things you probably already have around the house!

Also, remember to do this project outside or in a well ventilated area because it can be stinky, as well as ammonia can be toxic if breathed too much!

What you will need:

  • copper things – cost: varies
  • an airtight container (I use an old sandwich meat container ) – cost: free after a good lunch
  • alternately, you could use a plastic ziploc style bag to create your humidity chamber
  • lemon juice (optional)  (sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t) – cost: 2$ for a bottle
  • household ammonia – cost: depends on bottle size- generally a few bucks
  • ammonia-based window cleaner – cost: 3 or 4 dollars
  • white vinegar – cost: depends on bottle size- generally a few bucks
  • salt – cost: depends on size- generally a buck or two
  • Sealant such as clear spray paint or Future varnish (I use Future) -cost: 4-5 dollars
  • Spray bottle for your mixtures – cost: depends, I got mine at the dollar store. They are small, but work well and are easy to store at my work area. You could use an old cleaner spray bottle as well. Just wash it thoroughly first!

My spray bottles of formula, humidity chamber, and copper pendant piece ready to be greened up

If you shop around or already have most of these ingredients for your household cleaning, then your formula will cost almost nothing. I had all of the components already at home!

Ok. Now, there are several different recipes that you can use. I tend to use the first one more, but they bother work equally well. Experiment and figure out what you like best, that’s half the fun!

  • One option is to blend 1/4 cup (.19 liter) each of lemon juice, household ammonia, white vinegar and salt. Stir or shake thoroughly.
  • An alternative is to put 1 cup (.24 liter) white vinegar, 3/4 cup (.18 liter) household ammonia and 1/4 cup (.19 liter) table salt in the spray bottle. Shake it to mix the ingredients thoroughly.

You can adjust up or down based on how much you will be spraying, but this amount should go a long way. Put the formula in your spray bottle and shake before each use.

Now on to the directions!


Sand wire to make sure the patina takes

1) Spray your ammonia-based window cleaner on the copper item you want to patina. Wipe the surface completely with a lint-free cloth. Be sure to clean the entire surface, including all the small crevices and corners.
For the aging process to be most effective, the copper must be free of oils and other surface contaminants.

If you are going to age some wire,be sure to run some sandpaper over it first, as most wire has a coating on it to keep it from darkening.


Spray your copper with the patina formula

2) Spray the copper lightly with the window cleaner again, but do not wipe it off this time. This serves to break the invisible surface tension so that the aging compound makes solid contact with the metal itself.

3) Spray the entire surface with the patina mixture, making sure to get into even the smallest spaces. Do not over-saturate the piece, but be certain that you have covered all of the metal.


High humidity container

4) Place the copper item into your container and cover to create an artificial high humidity level. Allow it to sit, undisturbed, for about 1 hour.

5) After an hour, remove the item from the container and apply the patina mix again, once more making certain that you have covered the entire metallic surface.Return it to the humidifying container, and allow it to rest overnight.

6) Repeat this last step as many times as it takes to get your desired level of patina

7) After your item is done you can sand it off or wash it a bit to lessen or control the patina, but it is not necessary. I only do this if the patina went out of control in an area 🙂

8) Use your spray or brush on Future varnish with a paint brush to seal in your lovely green patina and enjoy!


The finished product!

One response

  1. whoah this weblog is great i love reading your articles.
    Keep up the great work! You already know, a lot of individuals are hunting around for this info, you could help them greatly.

    May 22, 2013 at 7:35 pm

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